It is hard to believe 18 months ago I couldn’t even define what public relations was. My knowledge was limited to watching Samantha Jones on Sex and the City attending the most exclusive events and dining at the latest it-restaurants. Despite the appeal of that glamorous lifestyle, I was always very much a realist, willing to accept the journalist-budget future ahead of me. It was only until I finished the PR module of my first year that I realised there was more to it than champagne and parties, and that was okay. Because for the first time, in a long time, I had found something I was passionate about.
During the spring of first year, I decided it was time to develop real life PR skills through an internship. Whilst gaining experience within a beauty and lifestyle agency was extremely beneficial, it really put my aspirations into perspective. I learnt that my heart didn’t lie with fashion bloggers and beauty brands, but I wanted to develop a career within the environmental field. And as luck would have it, I had this epiphany within the window of the Crispin Aubrey bursary applications, inspiring me to take the plunge. Having no confidence in myself that I could actually be awarded with the fund, I was stunned when I got the call from the family saying I was the chosen one. After years of contemplating choosing a career over my passion, I was now given the opportunity to combine the two.
With my sights set on potential second year placements, I came across a volunteering opportunity going in the Soil Association’s press office. A few phone calls and emails later, and my first environmental PR internship was confirmed. But I wasn’t ready to just stop there, because whilst I would love to say my lectures and seminars have given me all the understanding of PR and digital communications I need, I can’t. Not through my lecturers lack of trying, but simply because in a profession that is forever evolving, you have to keep learning outside of class too. PR isn’t just Powerpoints, it is a lifestyle. And it was only when I applied learnt theory during a first year work placement and various networking events, that I fully grasped the importance of everything I learnt in class.
But the year hasn’t come without it’s hiccups. Before I moved to Bristol to study, many warned me against choosing a degree swamped with writing, foreseeing my eminent failure due to my dyslexia. Despite this denting my confidence, the pessimism only motivated me to prove to myself that I can overcome this issue and progress. Impeccable writing skills is a must in the PR world, and whilst I may still need my writing triple checked, my course has pushed me to read much more and practice.
Running my blog, PR by Emma, has not only given me a reason to push past my writer’s block, but it has given me back my voice. After hearing positive feedback from my fellow peers and making Behind the Spin’s ‘Blog of the Week’, I decided to take a chance on myself and apply for an environmental journalism placement in South Africa. A week later, and an acceptance email arrived in my inbox, confirming in my mind that I made the right choice in persevering with my writing.
All I can say is, bring on 3rd year!
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